CPS open letter to Gov. Healey 

Let’s debate the MCAS ballot question with facts

People hold many opinions about the proposed ballot question that would end the requirement that students pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) to get a high school diploma. But some things are not a matter of opinion, they are simple facts.

That’s why we were disappointed when Gov. Maura Healey, answering a question about the ballot question, responded that she’s against it because we need “to be able to assess how our young people are doing.”

It’s a simple fact that the ballot question would not eliminate MCAS. The language is clear.

Students would continue to take the federally mandated MCAS exams. But they would get their diplomas by meeting our state’s highly regarded  educational standards as certified by their school districts rather than by attaining a certain score on the test.

Right now, there is no consequence for a fourth grader who scores low on the MCAS. If the ballot question passes, the same will be true of the 10th grade MCAS. All the same information about student, school, district, and statewide results will still be reported. We would still be assessing “how our young people are doing.” 

But high schools will face less pressure to focus their efforts on this one, narrow test. Teachers won’t have to drill their students on MCAS question formats or test-taking strategy for fear that they may not get diplomas. Schools won’t have to sacrifice teaching the wide range of skills and knowledge that students need, in order to make sure they pass.

Perhaps most importantly, Massachusetts can end a policy that has disproportionately harmed students with disabilities, English learners, African American, Latino, American Indian and low-income students.

We invite Gov. Healey to sit down with us so that we can answer any questions she has about the ballot question, what it does and does not include, and its potential impacts on public education in Massachusetts.

Let’s have a debate over the merits of a high school graduation test. But let’s keep it real.